“We told them very clearly that the president was not going to sign the bill if [funding for the Postal Service] was in it,” an official from President Trump’s administration told the Washington Post when discussing the $2 trillion Coronavirus Relief Aid that passed weeks ago.
Trump made it clear that he would veto the bill if it included any emergency funding for the agency that is already on unsteady ground, a situation that has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. The Post’s source added, “I don’t know if we used the v-bomb, but the president was not going to sign it, and we told them that.”
According to the report, the president is using a false claim that higher internet shipping rates imposed on companies like Amazon, FedEx and UPS would increase the USPS’s budget and help its 600,000 plus workers.
But the director of physical infrastructure at the Government Accountability Office told the Post that rate hikes would likely lead to shipping businesses looking elsewhere or even creating their own delivery methods, thus offsetting USPS revenue gains created by a rate increase.
With the service itself projecting losses of $2 billion a month during the COVID-19 crisis, Congress was able to squeeze into the bill a last-second $10 billion loan from the Treasury Department to get the agency through the spring.
But the Post goes on to say that, although Congress did agree to a $13 billion direct grant that would not require repayment, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers their insistence on helping the agency could jeopardize the entire the relief bill, saying, “You can have a loan, or you can have nothing at all.”
Even with that loan, Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly said the Postal Service would have trouble staying afloat through September.
“I’m so frustrated at how difficult it has been for a long time to galvanize attention and action around an essential service,” Connolly told the Post. “And maybe the pandemic forces us all to refocus on this service and how essential it is and how we need to fix it while we can before it gets into critical condition.”
Trump’s disregard for the Post Office seems to connect to his disdain of Jeff Bezos, the CEO and president of the online retail company Amazon. Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which is part of what Trump falsely calls the “fake news media,” and accurately reports on all of the president’s incompetent and heartless policies. Trump has complained about what he says are the low rates the Post Office charges Amazon.
Whether Trump is correct or not about how the Post Office should deal financially with Amazon is beside the point right now. USPS workers are risking their lives during the coronavirus crisis, delivering essentials like prescriptions and food to people in need. And it delivers to remote areas across the country where private delivery services may not reach, making it a lifeline for many. According to the report, 500 postal workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and nineteen have died. If the country can afford the billions sent to the private sector in the relief aid package, saving a service that many Americans rely on seems like something that should be a no-brainer.